- The child suffered serious neurological damage caused by the amoeba
- Health officials confirmed the amoeba was lurking in the country club’s water.
- READ MORE: Nevada boy dies from rare brain-eating amoeba from Lake Mead
Michael Alexander Pollock III died on September 4 after being exposed to the brain-eating amoeba
An Arkansas boy died after being infected with a rare brain-eating amoeba after being exposed at a Little Rock country club.
The 16-month-old boy was playing in the country club’s splash pad when he was infected with Naegleria fowleri, a water-dwelling amoeba that causes inflammation in the brain and destroys tissue, killing nearly 100 percent of its victims. .
The Arkansas Department of Health confirmed through laboratory testing that the splash pad where the boy and likely many other children were playing contained traces of the offending amoeba, forcing the exclusive club to close its pool and water play area.
The state coroner said the boy, Michael Alexander Pollock III, deceased the afternoon of September 4 at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
He is believed to be one of five victims of the brain-eating infection this year, the most recent being a Texas resident who died after swimming in an Austin lake.
The Country Club of Little Rock closed its splash and pool areas after the health department confirmed the amoeba was lurking in the freshwater there.
The boy was believed to have caught Naegleria fowleri after playing in a splash pad at the country club.
The Health Department said there is no ongoing threat to the public and the pool area remains closed to this day.
Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled microorganism that lives in warm freshwater, the kind that bubbles up from water features on splash pads.
When the parasite enters the nose and travels through the nasal passages, it reaches the brain where it feeds on brain tissue, causing serious neurological damage. The infection is called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
It is unclear how much time passed between Michael’s exposure to the brain-weakening organism and his death, although the infection usually progresses rapidly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms appear between one and 12 days after swimming in contaminated water, and death usually occurs about five days later.
Symptoms at first resemble those of a virus, and include headache, nausea, fever, and stiff neck. But they quickly progress to more serious neurological problems, such as seizures, hallucinations, coma and often death.
Only 157 cases of PAM were confirmed between 1962 and 2022, but only four people survived.
The Arkansas Department of Health, which sent water samples to the CDC for testing, saying: ‘The CDC has reported that a splash pad sample has been confirmed to contain viable Naegleria fowleri.’ The remaining samples are still pending. The department has been in contact with the Country Club of Little Rock and they have cooperated in the investigations with the ADH.
Although generally very rare, there are believed to have been at least five other victims in the US this year, the others being a person in Texas, a resident in Georgia, a two-year-old child in Nevada, a man in Florida , all died after contracting the disease.
The last reported case in Arkansas was in 2013, when a 12-year-old girl named Kali Hardig contracted the infection at a water park and survived.